I'll Be Home For Christmas
A/N: So, I hadn't wanted this story to go into February, but it was out of my control. This is the last chapter of this story because I plan on doing a sequel to it, but that won't come until November. As you all probably know by now, Whitney Houston, a woman with a powerful voice and a music icon, has died this past Saturday. I was raised on her music and, although death is a part of life, it's still hard to see someone who impacted your life, albeit indirectly, die. So, I want to say that I hope she rests in peace and that she is reunited with her friend, Michael Jackson. On the brighter side of my week, I got to meet Vanessa Hudgens (fan girl moment) and I got her autograph. She is absolutely stunning in real life and her eyes are like...wow. And she's really sweet. Since Fanfiction has disabled all links on user profile pages, anyone who wants to see the pictures, the links will be at the bottom of the page.
Their hushed whispers were the only sound to penetrate the, otherwise, silent house. He knew that they were talking about him. It was hard to hear his name slip off of their lips every few seconds. He could only guess that his father was not at all pleased about his return. Honestly, he could care less about how him being home made his father feel. He came for his mother's sake, not his father's. Standing from where he sat on his bed, listening to his parents argue, Troy stood and wandered out to the kitchen. The voices stop as his footsteps echo off the wall and he entered the room where the tension was high.
"Morning," he says as he walks to the refrigerator.
"Morning, sweetie," his mother answers, smiling warmly at him.
His father says nothing, but acknowledged his son's presence with a grunt before picking up the magazine in front of him. Troy, essentially, ignored his father, truly not caring if the man decided to act this way. Of course, his mother doesn't like that he's being so inhospitable, but she doesn't voice it. Instead, she turned her full attention to her son.
"What time did you get in last night?"
"Eleven," he responded as he poured himself a glass of orange juice.
"How was the traffic?"
"It was fine up until I got to the bridge."
"That's good." She walked up to him, placing her hand on his cheek. "You don't know how much I've missed you, sweetheart."
He smiled and brought his mother into a tight embrace. "I've missed you, too."
"Bullshit," his father spoke, finally, ruining the mood between mother and son.
"Jack, don't start."
"What? All I'm doing is calling him out on his bullshit."
She tried to avoid the impending argument between her husband and her son, but Troy was seeing red at this point in time and the words to add fuel to the fire tumbled out of his mouth before she had time to intercede. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means, Troy, that if you truly missed your mother then you would have came home a long time ago. But you didn't. You decided to stay in California for the past seven years and not even bother to check up on her."
"You know why I didn't come back."
"I do," he answered with a nod, "and I still haven't forgiven you for it, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the only time we ever heard from you was when your mother called, trying to convince you to come home. But did you ever? No, and if there was one thing that I hated more than you hitting your own mother, it was the fact that you had no regard to how she felt. That you were breaking her heart every time you declined to come home."
"Don't you think I wanted to come home?"
"No. Not by the way you were acting."
"Well, I did. But do you know why I didn't?" His father stayed quiet. "I didn't because I knew that you wouldn't stop blaming me for what I did. I knew that you would forever hold that grudge against me and I just didn't want to deal with you. Unfortunately, my desire to avoid you meant having to stay away from Mom and I didn't realize it until recently that I was tired of not seeing her. So, that's why I'm here, because I, honestly, don't care if you hate me for hitting her. I'm tired of caring what you think of me."
His father said nothing. Instead, he returned to reading his magazine. Sighing in disappointment, his mother turned and smiled at him, almost as if trying to apologize for his father's behavior. He smiled back and shook his head. She had nothing to apologize for. Running his hand through his hair, he quickly finished his glass of orange juice and started towards his room.
"Do you want breakfast, honey?" she asked.
"No thanks, Ma. There's, uh, someone I need to talk to."
He knew his mother was staring at his back with a confused expression on her face, but he had not time to explain to her what really happened on his journey home. He had no time to tell her about the amazing woman that he met and traveled with from one side of the country to the other. The minute he returned to his room, he pulled out clean clothes and headed for the bathroom. It took fifteen minutes to shower, dress and get himself ready to leave. After telling his mother that he would be back in a little bit, he took off in his car in the direction of Hempstead and silently prayed that the brunette was still home.
Almost twenty minutes later, Troy was pulling up to the same house from last night, this time getting a good look at it. The modest size home was two stories, made completely of red bricks with white windows and blue shutters. It was one of those old colonial homes that were hard to find anyplace outside of an old colonial town. He wondered how she was able to afford the place on her own. Walking up the pathway to the front door, he knocked and waited for an answer. Moments later, the door opened and he was greeted by the sight of a little girl staring up at him. She must have been Gabriella's niece visiting for Christmas.
"Hi," she said, her brown eyes blinking innocently.
"Hi," he responded before kneeling down in front of her, smiling. "I'm looking for your aunt. Is she here?"
She shied away before shaking her head. "No. Auntie Gabi went to the store."
"Allison, who's…" The woman, who he could correctly assume was Gabriella's sister, appeared and smiled, tentatively, at him. He rose and smiled back. "Ally, why don't you go play with your toys." The little girl nodded before disappearing into another room. "Uh, hi. May I help you?"
"Yeah, I'm looking for Gabriella."
"She's not here at the moment. Who are you?"
"Oh," he started, holding out his hand, "I'm Troy. I'm a friend of hers."
She shook his hand. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Rachel, Gabriella's sister."
"Nice to meet you, too. Do you, um, know when she'll be back?"
"She should be back soon. You can come in and wait for her, if you want."
He stepped inside and looked in awe at the interior of the home, still looking as if it were straight out of the 1700s. Glancing off to the left, he found what could only be explained as the living room where a six foot Douglas fir tree stood alit next to an elegant fire place with picture frames littering the mantle. Beneath the tree was the adorable brunette girl that he'd met only seconds before. Rachel walked around him and beckoned him further inside. He followed and took a seat next to her on the couch while Allison played with her gifts only a few feet away.
"So, how do you know my sister?"
"Uh, well, I met her in the airport two days ago and…"
"Oh! So, you're the guy she drove here with." He nodded and she smiled. "She said you were cute, but she say how cute."
Blushing slightly, he hadn't expected Gabriella to talk about him to her sister, much less talk about the fact that she thought he was good-looking. "Uh…t-thanks?"
Before he could get a chance to feel fully uncomfortable, the door opened and his head turned just as Gabriella walked in. Allison was the first one to greet her, helping her to fail to notice the blue-eyed male. She smiled and walked into the living room with Allison at her heels. When her head rose, she stood shocked by the sight of Troy sitting beside her sister. He smiled and waved at her.
"Troy? What are you doing here?"
He stood. "Do you mind if we talk?"
"Um, sure, just let me…" She held up the grocery bags in her hands.
"I'll take care of those," Rachel said, grabbing the bags from her sister and disappearing into the dining area off to the right of the staircase, leaving Troy and Gabriella alone with Allison completely engrossed with playing with her toys once more.
"How about we go for a walk," she suggested and he nodded, following her out into the nippy December air.
"So," she said after minutes of complete silence, "what did you want to talk to me about?"
"How come you told me you didn't live with your sister?"
"I don't." He gave her a look of disbelief. "Alright, alright." She sighed. "How'd you figure it out?"
"Well, one, I don't believe that you can afford a house like that on your own. Two, your sister and her daughter were in their pajamas. Three, I saw a picture of her and her husband sitting on the mantle of them in front of the house." He stopped and turned to her. "Why'd you lie to me?"
She shrugged and grinned. "If you were me, would you tell an attractive guy that you live with your sister and your niece?"
He chuckled and shook his head. "I guess not."
"Besides, I wasn't the only one who lied," she said, crossing her arms. He grinned as he scratched his neck, nervously, as he realized she was talking about his lie that he fed her about his reluctance to return home.
"Hey, at least I came clean about it."
"Yeah, after I had to coerce it out of you." Sighing, she tilted her head and dropped her arms. "Enough stalling, Troy. Why are you here?"
"I told you, to talk to you."
"About what? And I'm pretty sure that it had nothing to do with me lying about living with my sister. So, what's the real conversation you want to have?"
He sighed. "Alright, I just…I didn't feel right last night. I felt like we still had a few things left unresolved. Truth is, Gabriella…I really like you. I don't know what it is, but there's something about you, something I can't quite explain, that makes me feel something I've never felt before. I know that we've only known each other for two days, but I can't change whatever this is that I can't get rid of whenever I think of you. I know that you have this idea in your head that I don't fight for anything, but I promise that if you give me a chance, I'd fight for you. I'd fight for us."
She stared into his blue eyes, searching for truth. Nothing in his gaze told her that he was lying and it caused a smile to break out on her face. Reaching up, she touched her fingers to his cheek and nodded. "Okay."
Shock and disbelief crossed him. "Really?"
He grinned before grabbing her around her waist and lifting her off her feet. She giggled as he spun her around twice before putting her down. "You won't regret it, I promise."
"I hope I won't," she said, grabbing his hand. "I should get back."
Nodding, he intertwined his fingers with hers and they turned to head in the direction of her sister's home. Once they reached the front door, she glanced up at him, biting her lower lip. He knew that look. She was thinking about something; contemplating something. His brow lifted, silently questioning her.
"Do you, maybe, wanna stay a while?"
Smiling, he nodded. "Sure. Why not?"
Pulling on his hand, she led him inside. He followed, obediently, wanting to spend as much time as he could in her presence. He'd never been so happy in his entire life than he did at the moment when she told him that she would give him a chance.
After spending the morning and most of the afternoon with Gabriella and her family, Troy reluctantly returned home. He knew it was wrong of him to spend Christmas away from the person he came to see, but after his argument with his father, he needed time to himself. Upon stepping through the front door of his parents' home, he was bombarded by the smell of something cooking. He could only guess that his mother was in the middle of cooking dinner.
"Hey, Ma," he said as he walked into the kitchen.
"Hi, sweetheart. Where have you been?"
"At a friend's house."
"For the past few hours?"
"Well, her sister…"
"A girl, huh?" she asked, a knowing smile on her face.
"Mom." His face lit up like a stop light. "It's not…" He stopped himself, realizing it was exactly like she though. "Okay, maybe it is, but nothing happened."
"Uh-huh. And when I do I get to meet her?"
"Not for a long time."
"Well…because, in all honesty, we just met. I mean, literally, we just met."
Upon seeing the curious look in his mother emerald eyes, he sighed and told her the entire story of how he dropped his phone and Gabriella picked up to return it to him and everything that came after. He, however, skipped over the part about them getting into an argument and ended it with going over to her house earlier to ask her out.
"And that's why I don't want you to meet her right now, because then you would be getting to know her the same time I would. Besides, introducing her now would be moving a bit too quickly."
She smiled and nodded. "I understand, Baby. One question, though: What's going to happen when you go back to L.A.?"
His eyes widened, completely forgetting about that detail. "I-I don't know. I hadn't thought about that," he answered, scratching the back of his neck, nervously.
"I suggest you figure it out before you go back."
He nodded and headed for his room. Once he was inside, he took out his phone and quickly dialed Gabriella's number.
"Didn't I just get rid of you?" she asked, amusement in her voice.
Grinning, he nodded before saying, "Yes, but I have a perfectly good reason for calling."
"Oh? And what, pray tell, is that reason?"
"Well," he took a seat on his bed, "I told my mom about you."
"You did?" she asked, a sense of panic in her voice.
"Don't worry, Gabriella, you won't be meeting her any time soon and I made that clear to her."
"Oh…well, that's good."
He chuckled before remembering why he'd called her. "Anyway, she brought something to my attention." She remained silent. "What are we going to do when I go back to Cali?"
"Crap. I hadn't thought of that."
"Yeah, me either. I know it's going to be hard, but I think we should give this long distance thing a try. I really do want us to work."
She sighed and he could sense the smile in her voice as she spoke. "So do I, Troy. When are you heading back?"
"Well, I thought I'd just say until after the New Year."
"Alright. Then we can spend time together over the next week and then I can go see you when the schools have mid-winter break and then maybe you could come see me some time in the spring and then I could visit in the summer. We can make this work."
The grin on his face couldn't be helped. This woman, the one he'd just met only two days ago, was amazing and he hoped she realized it. "Thank you."
"For everything, really. For the entire trip here, for being a friend even though we know nothing about each other, and for…for opening my eyes and making me realize that I wasn't fighting for anything I wanted."
"You're welcome, Troy." There was a bit of noise on the other end and he heard her sigh. "I gotta go, but I'll talk to you tomorrow, right?"
"Yeah. Night, Gabriella."
"Night, and Merry Christmas."
The minute he ended the call, he was aware of a presence in the doorway and looked up to see his father leaning against the door jamb. Both men stayed silent as blue stared into blue. After what seemed like forever, Troy's father moved out of the doorway and walked towards the nearest shelf cluttered with basketball trophies.
"I just don't understand it," he said, sighing.
"What's there to understand?"
"How could you give it all up? You had a chance, Son; a chance to play the game that you loved so much."
"But that's just it, Dad, I didn't love it as much. I only played it because I was good at it, but I didn't want to devote my life to it."
"No, you wanted to be a rock star," he said with sarcasm. "How did that go, by the way?"
Troy's eyes narrowed. "I didn't give up that dream because of you, so don't look so smug."
"Then why did you?"
He sighed. "It wasn't an easy decision, but I did it because living in Los Angeles wasn't cheap. I needed a good paying job once I graduated and I knew that, unless you made it big, musicians were underpaid."
"And what do you do now?"
Nodding, his father walked over to him and took a seat. "Troy, son, you know that the only thing I've ever wanted for you was for you to have a good paying job doing something you love. That's why I pushed for basketball. I knew that you would be drafted out of college; that's how good you were, that's how much I believed in you. But then you decided to chase that dream about making it big in the music industry and I knew that it would be a lot harder for you to make it. Yes, you were good at that, too, but look how many people are out there that are good singers and don't make it. You had a better chance of being drafted than getting a record contract."
"Do you realize how much pressure you put on me, Dad? How much of a bully you became because I wouldn't follow your advice?"
Sighing, he looked down at the floor. "Yes, Troy, I'm aware of that. Your mother has scolded me many times over because of the way I acted towards you. But I just want you to understand that I did it for your own good."
"Yeah? Well, sometimes, what you think is best for me isn't what I think is best for myself."
"I know. I understand that now."
"Look," Troy said, running a hand through his hair, "I'll forgive you for all the shit you put me through, if you forgive me for what I did to Mom. I really didn't mean to hurt her."
"I know, son, I know. I forgive you. Besides, it's hard to hold a grudge against you when your mother constantly nags me about it. She won't let me stay mad at you. Hell, when you left, she tore me a new ass because of the way I treated you."
He chuckled. "That's Mom, for you. Ever the peace maker."
His father nodded. "With violent means," he said with a chuckle. "So, she's told me you met a girl."
Groaning, he dropped his head into his arms. "I just met her."
"Don't worry, I'm not as nosy as your mother. She does want to know, though, have you figured out what you and this girl are going to do when you go back to California."
"Tell Mom that we have it all figured out and for her not to worry."
"That's good. Well," he said as he stood, "I better go see if your mom's done with dinner, yet." Troy nodded as he watched his father walk to the door. Suddenly, the man stopped and turned to him. "It feels good to have you home, son."
Troy smiled. "It feels good to be home, Dad."
With a small smile, Troy's father turned and left the room. Lying back on his bed, he stared up at the ceiling, his lips still turned upward. He meant what he said. It really did feel good to be home. He missed it so much and cursed himself for avoiding it for seven years. All of this hostility between him and his father could have been solved much sooner, but his fear kept him from coming back. Not anymore, though. Now, he and his father were on good terms, his mother had never been mad at him so there was no problem there and he had a girl to come home to. Everything was right in the world. At least, in his world.
"Troy, dinner's ready!" his mother called.
He sat up and stood, heading towards the kitchen. For the first time, in a long time, he was about to have dinner with his parents without any form of arguing or tension. Yep, everything was right in the world.
I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
Links to pictures. Remove all spaces
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i123 . photobucket . com/albums/o307/broken-hearted16/blurryvanessa . jpg
i123 . photobucket . com/albums/o307/broken-hearted16/vanessa . jpg